Prairie Fork Wind Farm (PFWF) is a large onshore wind power project that will be built on 25,000 acres in Christian and Montgomery counties in central Illinois, US.
Located 25 miles south-east of Springfield, the plant will be owned and operated by Dominion Energy. It will have an installed capacity of 300MW which meets the electricity consumption requirements of 67,500 to 90,000 homes.
The PFWF is expected to provide significant economic benefits to the central Illinois region with 15 to 20 full-time working positions in maintenance and operations. The project will also offer 300 local jobs during the peak time of construction.
The plant is expected to pay an estimated annual property tax of more than $1m to the counties. The land owners will receive regular long-term income for offering their land for the wind farm.
The wind farm will have 150 to 200 wind turbines. Each three-wing turbine can produce 2MW of electricity. The turbines will be 350ft (106m) high.
The plant will increase the renewable energy generation of Dominion to approximately 1,300MW. It will also increase power generation of Dominion Energy in the Midwest region to more than 3,200MW.
The project is expected to supply power to 325,000 US families.
The plan to build the PFWF in central Illinois was unveiled by Dominion Energy in April 2008.
The project will begin in 2010 once the required permits and approvals are granted. The plant is expected to be operational on-grid by 2011.
Wind is one of the most abundant natural and renewable resources available. It is a form of solar energy and generates emissions-free energy due to uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the abnormalities of the earth’s surface and rotation of the earth.
The wind turbines of the Prairie Fork wind farm will be equipped with low and high speed shafts, gear box, generator, controller, brake, blade bearing, main bearing, nacelle bed plate, transformer, inverter and anemometer.
The anemometer integrated in the turbine will capture the wind passing through the wind farm. It will assess the wind speed and transfer the data to the controller.
The controller will turn on the generator when the wind speed ranges between 7mph and 8mph.
The generator will absorb kinetic energy present in the wind and transform it into electrical energy.
The 300MW plant will be connected to the PJM grid network.
US power market
The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) latest report states that wind power in Illinois continued to grow at a rapid pace during 2009. As per the AWEA report, Illinois stood at seventh place in wind power production in the US.
According to Illinois Wind Energy Association (IWEA) Illinois is the fifth largest wind power producer because AWEA has not included the 300MW Cayuga Ridge project in its report. The IWEA declared that the state is currently producing 1,800MW of wind power.
The US was a world leader in wind power generation market until 2009.
China became the leading power generator in the world wind market overtaking the US.
The US market continued to expand in 2009 despite financial crisis and produced 9,900MW which is 18% more than that in 2008.